Gelatin gummy dog treats are easy to make, healthy, and our dogs love them! In the current FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting mini-series topics, we’re sharing (and drooling) information on different types of DIY dog treats. Although these are technically chilled dog treats, we’re such big fans of gummies that they really deserve a special post all to their own. We always have some sort of gummy dog treat in our fridge. Here’s an introduction to making homemade gelatin gummy dog treats, treat storage, and handy tips and tricks.
Why We Started Using Bone Broth and Gelatin with Our Dogs
Gelatin or Gelatine?
Don’t worry, furfriends. Gelatin and gelatine are the same healthy ingredient, just with or without an e depending on spelling preferences. Don’t confuse your gelatin(e) powder with hydrolysed collagen though. That won’t gel for you. See the explanation and cautions below in our section on choosing a suitable gelatin for making gummies.
Health Benefits of Gelatin for Dogs
Gelatin is full of potential health benefits. It’s those benefits that led me to get over my ewwww factor and start making gelatin dog treats. Oli could use all the help I can give him for his ageing joints and mobility, but it’s not just for seniors. Not only is gelatin packed with protein, it can be beneficial for other aspects of general health including metabolism, digestion, liver function, bones, skin, coat, etc.
Gelatin vs. Bone Broth
Gelatin is made by cooking down the skin, cartilage, and bones of animals. If that sounds a lot like making homemade bone broth, that’s because it they have some strong similarities. I’ve even experimented with making bone broth that set firm enough to cut into bite-sized pieces, which is basically the process of making gummies from scratch. The dogs loved them, but it takes a lot of time and effort to make gummies that way. Using gelatin is a quick and easy option for making homemade gummy dog treats.
Quality gelatin has many of the same healthy properties as bone broth. It can be used as a sprinkle, in baking, and to make gelatin gummy dog treats. I still make bone broth for our dogs on a regular basis, but I just freeze it in a tray and then store the cubes for ready use. It’s great on its own, or as an ingredient in gummies and many other recipes. Bone broth contains collagen/gelatin, but (when homemade) it’s a less processed whole food, with all sorts of other nutrients. Plus, it has a great scent and taste that drives our dogs wild. Cue the drool!
Choosing the Right Gelatin for Making Gummy Treats
Shopping for a Quality Gelatin
Because gelatin is essential a by-product protein, made with bones, skin, hides, etc, I’m happy to pay a bit more and be more confident in the quality. Trying to decide on the quality of gelatin is similar to assessing other animal products. Considerations may include:
- Reputation of the company or brand.
- What (if any) additives are used.
- Protein sources, including the type of animal proteins in the gelatin and the way in which the animal was raised (e.g. grass or pasture fed vs. unspecified or factory / feedlot farming).
- Country of origin (food safety standards, animal welfare standards, etc.).
- Any special product standards or certifications.
Don’t Confuse Standard Gelatin with Hydrolysed Collagen
Gelatin gummies need gelatin. Hydrolysed collagen is still very healthy, but has been put through a form of additional processing that’s actually meant to break-up and shorten the protein chains that put the gel in gelatin. It will readily dissolve in either hot or cold liquids without gelling, unlike standard gelatin. Many people prefer using it because it can be easily hidden in their foods, smoothies, etc. as a supplement and some people find it easier on the system as well. It can’t be used as a thickener, gelling agent, or to make gummies.
If you’ve accidentally bought the wrong product for making homemade gelatin gummy dog treats, all is not lost. Hydrolysed collagen can be used as a sprinkle-on topper or mixed into food or liquids for similar health benefits to the gelatin in gummies. As with gelatin, remember to adjust for suitable serving sizes and introduce it to the diet with small quantities.
We’re often asked what type of gelatin we use for making gummies. We’ve used a variety of different gelatins, both for for general recipe testing and due to product availability. Great Lakes Culinary Beef Gelatin (Unflavoured) is currently our go to gelatin powder for making gummies. Here’s a link to the Great Lakes Wellness brand on Amazon (affiliate link) so you see the product details and packaging. Note that they’ve recently changed the design, so the container may look a little different to the older orange container you see in our photos.
Making Gelatin Gummies for Dogs
Gelatin Gummy Dog Treat Ingredients
Powdered gelatin can be used with any liquid base to make gummies. Options include dog-safe stock or broth, plain yogurt, kefir, various milks, pureed fruit, pureed vegetables, or even plain water. Liquids can be mixed and/or other ingredients can be added to the base for scent, flavour, extra nutritional value, or just because you feel like it. I’ll talk more about mixing different ingredients later in this post.
Caution: There are a few special exceptions when working with gelatin, including fruits with protease enzymes (proteolytic enzymes) such as fresh pineapple or kiwi. Some yogurts and kefirs are also high in proteases. These are natural digestive enzymes, and can affect the gelling properties, resulting in a runny jelly. Accidental fails can be salvaged by freezing as pupsicle dog treats instead.
Making Gelatin Gummies
Preparing gelatin gummies takes only a few quick minutes, plus hands-off time to set. Cool liquid is measured into the pan and powdered gelatin is evenly sprinkled across the surface. It is then left to sit for around five minutes (can leave it longer, if you wish) to fully hydrate and bloom. Once bloomed, it can be gently heated and stirred until the bloomed gelatin is completely dissolved.
Alternatively, a measured quantity of hot liquid can be added to bring the bloomed gelatin up to temperature for dissolving. If using this method, it’s essential to make sure your total liquid measurement is suitable for the quantity of bloomed gelatin to ensure your gummies set correctly. I usually prefer using the first method when making gelatin gummy dog treats.
The completed mixture can then be poured into silicon moulds (affiliate link) for shaped gummies or a suitable container for set-and-cut treats, and placed in the refrigerator until firmly set. As with all types of food and treats, it’s important to make sure that the shape and size is suitable for your pet, both in terms of treat content and safe eating.
We walk you through the steps above along with ingredients and any other special instructions in the individual posts for all of our gummy dog treat recipes. Don’t worry, it’s easy! And once you’ve made a batch, it feels even easier when you make more gummies.
Gummy Dog Treat Making Tips and Tricks
- Volumes are very easily scaled. If you want a precise measure of a specific pan or mould capacity, you can do a test pour. Use a measuring cup of water to check the volume required to fill your pan or mould. Then you can scale your recipe ingredients to suit.
- In my experience, 3 tbsp of gelatin powder per cup of liquid makes firm gummies, but as noted above you can use more gelatin for added supplementation or less for a jigglier jelly treat with lower gelatin content. Individual gelatin powders may be a little stronger or weaker. Find a ratio that works for your preferences and, of course, your dog.
- I like prepare my gelatin in a pan. Sprinkling across the additional surface area is helpful for hydration and blooming.
Moulds and Pans:
- If you’re using shaped moulds, keep them simple for easy breakage-free removal. I find that flexible silicone food moulds work best. Stiff moulds can be tricky for removal.
- Supple silicon moulds are tricky to move around when full of liquid. During prep, place them on a portable surface to help you get things into the fridge without mess and stress. I use a cutting board. Convenient and easy!
- When pouring prepared gelatine into moulds, I like transferring from the prep pan into a coffee milk jug first. That’s much easier to handle than pouring from the pan or spooning. The jugs are stain resistant, heat safe, easy pour, and dishwasher-friendly. Awesome!
Setting and Finishing:
- If you’re not confident in getting your filled mould safely into the fridge without spilling, you can let it sit at room temperature briefly to begin gelling first. Then, once it’s gelled, transfer it to the fridge to fully set. Like any food (dog or human), brief is better if possible before continuing cooling in the refrigerator for food safety.
- Don’t be tempted to take try to take the treats out of the moulds too soon. It will be much easier to remove gummies when fully set.
- Once set, gummies are ready to eat. But for an even better “real” gummy texture and feel, after you have taken the treats out of the mould (or cut into pieces from your pan), return them to the refrigerator on a plate or tray uncovered to dry for a day or so. Then switch to normal container storage. Don’t leave them uncovered for too long, as they will continue to dry out.
- Gummy treats should be kept refrigerated. They can be frozen for longer storage, but freezing can affect consistency. See below for more details on gummy storage.
Mixing Liquid Ingredients for Gelatin Gummy Treats
If you’re mixing ingredients, depending on the ingredients and your preferences, you may want to pre-mix as an all-in-one base or split the preparation. Our individual recipes posts will say how we’ve prepped the mixtures and any add-ins before or after.
Premixing Liquid Ingredients Before Preparing Gummies
You can premix most liquids in the pot or pan you plan to use for making the gelatin. If you’re working with temperature sensitive ingredients, you may prefer to split the preparation (see below). Really thick mixtures might be difficult to get full hydration, but you can dilute them. As a bonus, you’re treats will be a little less-rich and indulgent, too. Shhh. Don’t tell the dogs! If you’re working with a thick ingredient, incrementally adding the thinner liquid and stirring it in can help reduce clumping for an easier mixing. If you’re using chunky add-ins and prefer a more uniform mixture, you can put your ingredients through a blender or food processor to create a base.
As a sneaky little shortcut when making quick batches of broth gummies, I sometimes bloom the gelatin on cool water and then drop my frozen dog-safe homemade broth cubes straight from the freezer into the pan to melt at the same time as I dissolve my gelatin. It’s super quick/efficient and works perfectly. Just make sure the total measurements work for the gelatin to liquid ratio.
Splitting Ingredients During the Preparation of Gummies
Splitting the preparation can be helpful for a number of reasons, but be careful with your total measurements. You want to make sure you have enough gelling power to set the final mixture. Splitting can be particularly useful to minimise the heat exposure of liquid ingredients.
I like to split my base for yogurt and kefir to protect the probiotic content. To do this, I prepare the gelatin in a measured quantity of liquid (making sure my total after combining is the 3:1 ratio above) and then make sure the prepared mixture is below 50C (120F) before stirring it into the yogurt or kefir.
I also like to split preparation when adding fruit and veggie purees, just so they’re still semi raw and fresh. Splitting can also be helpful when working with opaque ingredients. If you’re new to gummy making in particular, it can be hard to judge when the gelatin is fully dissolved when you have an opaque or speckled base.
Peanut butter is a special exception to my usual gummy making methods. It can be tricky to blend or melt uniformly into a water-based gelatin mixture. Curious? We have a post on how to make gelatin gummies with peanut butter.
Adding Dry or Chunky Ingredients to Gelatin Gummy Treats
When to Combine the Ingredients
When I started making homemade gelatin gummy dog treats years ago, I used to just mix everything including dry ingredients with the base before preparing the gelatin. It works, but I’ve come to prefer mixing dry ingredients after preparing the base liquid. Why? There are no issues with visibility, no unnecessary heating, and it’s easy to get a uniform blend. It’s also easy to make a variety of gummy treats with a single small batch of gelatin base. That’s particularly handy if you’re keen for mix-and-match treats or if you’re testing something new.
Adding Small Dry or Powdered Ingredients
When adding powders, I measure the powder into my pouring container. As noted in the helpful hints above, I like using a coffee milk jug when I make gummies. Then I mix a small quantity of the prepared gelatin into the jug with the powder. This helps to combine things with minimal lumps and clumps. Once mixed, I add the rest of the gelatin and stir everything to thoroughly combine.
Using Ingredients that Don’t Dissolve
When adding chunky things or ingredients that don’t dissolve, such as dried herbs, chunky puree, etc. these tend to sink or float in the liquefied gelatin. They’ll still stick to the set mixture, just either settled on the bottom (top when removed from pan) or floating on the top (bottom when removed from pan). You can even use this to create decorative effects in your gummies, if you’d like! On the down side, anything that settles thickly, like insoluable powders, may affect removal from moulds depending on settled quantities and thickness.
If you’d prefer things to be more evenly distributed in the gelatin mixture as suspended solids, you can cool the gelatin down to just above its setting point before moulding. Let the liquid gelatine mixture cool to become thick and viscous enough to hold the floating and/or sinking pieces distributed through the gummy. After preparation, slowly, stirring periodically, allow the mixture to cool and thicken. You can do this at room temperature, or you can speed things up using the fridge (or an ice bath, if you prefer). When the mixture has thickened enough, you can finalise your prep and spoon/pour the finished gelatin mixture into your moulds and chill to set.
Troubleshooting Setting Problems
With the exception of the protease enzymes, as noted above, the most common culprit for setting issues is something going awry during prep. The blooming liquid needs to be cool and the sprinkled gelatin should slowly hydrate and plump up into a thick grainy gel. Don’t be tempted to stir it before it’s bloomed as this can create clumps. Once bloomed, the mixture is slowly heated. It needs enough heating to fully dissolve, but don’t cook it. High temperatures can break down the protein chains and weaken the gelatin’s ability to gel.
The quantity of powder-to-liquid noted above generally works great for us. We’ve tested with multiple brands at this ratio, but gelatin products do have different strengths. If you find things are consistently soft with good bloom and dissolving, try using a little more for a firmer set. Too firm for your liking? You can experiment with lowering the gelatin to liquid ratio.
Gelatin will re-dissolve with gentle heat, so you can try reusing failed mixtures with additional bloomed gelatin, however, this can be difficult to judge. It is much easier to just enjoy as-is as a spooned topping meal topping or by freezing the mixture into pupsicle treats instead. And likely less frustrating too, especially if the cause of the issue is uncertain.
Storing Homemade Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats
Gummies will remain firm at room temperature, but are best refrigerated for food safety. Even if the ingredients you use are stable, once mixed, all bets are off.
Gummy treats can be frozen for longer storage, although this can affect consistency. They’re so easy to make, I prefer doing frequent small batches and using them fresh from the fridge. If gummies are frozen, I find that defrosting in the fridge uncovered helps to make sure that they thaw semi-dry instead of getting a little slippery. Freezing causes gelatin to separate, which tends to bleed out some of their liquid content in addition to condensation factors during thaw.
At warmer temperatures, the gelatin in the gummies will start to melt back into a liquid. The melting temperature depends of a lot of other factors (quality, concentration, other ingredients, etc). This is typically well above room temperature, except perhaps a sizzling summer room, but gummies are definitely not pocket-friendly treats.
Keen to Try a Few Treats?
We have all sorts of treat related posts here on the blog. You can sniff around our DIY dog recipes, use our categories and tags to navigate, or use the internal search function to look for specific types or treats or treat ingredients. You can also hop over to our DIY Dog Treat Recipes board on Pinterest for ideas from here and all around the web. We’ve also started a Pet Chef Help board on Pinterest with handy links on things like ingredients, substitutions, conversions, tinting, and more. Check out the full mini-series topic for an introduction to the main categories of different homemade dog treats we make and share here on the blog:
- Why (and How) to Make Homemade Dog Treats
- Frozen and Chilled Homemade Dog Treats
- Homemade Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats
- Homemade Dehydrated Dog Treats
- Homemade Birthday and Special Occasion Dog Cakes
- Homemade Baked Biscuit (Cookie) Dog Treats
- Decorating Homemade Baked Biscuit Dog Treats
- Homemade Baked Dog Treat Shelf Life and Storage
Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our archives. You can use the category and tag labels above/ below posts to find other recipes that might be of interest or use our internal search tools to find something specific. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas from treats that we’ve made ourselves for our pets, but different animals have different preferences (likes/dislikes), just like people. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.